It’s hardly ground breaking news to report Russia-led forces are continuing their harassment of the OSCE. On a daily bases, monitors are stopped from entering areas, refused entry through checkpoints and ordered to leave locations such as the Ukrainian/Russian border. Also, there’s excellent evidence indicating Russia-led forces have repeatedly fired towards OSCE patrols in an effort to blame the Ukrainian army (read my post on recent firing). In contrast, the OSCE report minimal obstruction from the Ukrainian military, so it’s crystal clear Russia’s the only one who has something to hide in eastern Ukraine.
The latest OSCE report seen below for April 9th to 19th lists 50 occasions when OSCE monitors had their “Freedom of movement restricted.” All incidents happened in no-government controlled territory, which translates as Russia-led territory.
OSCE Monitors Held Hostage.
Note: SMM means – Special (OSCE) Monitoring Mission (to Ukraine).
Note: Header pic is not related to this incident.
On May 8th, which ironically was VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), Russia-led forces in Europe took the obstruction of the OSCE to new and dangerous heights. On the outskirts of the occupied town of Horlivka, armed soldiers, accompanied by snipers, held a group of OSCE monitors at gunpoint for almost 3 hours. Clearly they feared the OSCE may have filmed something they didn’t want them seeing. That something could be either mortars/artillery, and other Minsk banned hardware on the front line or perhaps new military positions near the houses allegedly reported as damaged.
1: Having conducted a routine “announced” UAV flight, to check on reports of recent damage to property due to shelling, armed soldiers appeared and would “not allow the patrol members to enter their vehicles and leave.” The OSCE always pre-inform both sides when they’ll be in an area conducting UAV flights.
2: An hour later, more soldiers arrived and used their vehicles to block the OSCE vehicles making it impossible for them to leave. These demanded to “take pictures of the monitors’ identity cards and of the mini-UAV, which the SMM refused to allow them to do.” The demand to take photos of ID cards is clearly designed to intimidate OSCE staff, to label them as trouble makers and people to watch out for.
3: Forty minutes later, another soldier arrived, probably an officer. He said the monitors would only “be allowed to leave once it complied with the request” for photos. Adding to the pressure of their confinement, “While waiting, the patrol members saw several armed formations members (three of them armed with sniper rifles) at a distance.”
4: Over an hour later, and with the OSCE standing firm, the order was given to allow the monitors to leave. Thankfully on this occasion no one was physically hurt, but it could of turned out very different. In the past drunken and abusive Russia-led soldiers have threatened monitors and even damaged OSCE vehicles.
Town of Horlivka is located in the Donetsk Oblast (province).
This is a front line hot spot with routine firing in the surrounding area.
Test from OSCE Spot Report. OSCE report link.
“On the morning of 8 May, an SMM patrol consisting of five Mission members and two vehicles located on the south-western outskirts of Horlivka (non-government-controlled, 39km north-east of Donetsk) conducted an announced SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight to follow up on reports of recent damage in the area.
At about 9:20, after the patrol had completed the flight, four armed formations members, (three of them carrying rifles), approached the patrol. They said that the SMM had no permission to fly its UAV in the area, and did not allow the patrol members to enter their vehicles and leave.
At 10:11, three more armed formations members, (armed with pistols), arrived in a van and a civilian car, with which they blocked the SMM vehicles’ exit route. They asked to take pictures of the monitors’ identity cards and of the mini-UAV, which the SMM refused to allow them to do.
At 10:52, an armed formations member, (armed with a pistol), arrived at the site and told the Mission it would be allowed to leave once it complied with the request. While waiting, the patrol members saw several armed formations members (three of them armed with sniper rifles) at a distance.
At 12:09, an armed formations member said he had received instructions to allow the patrol to leave the area and the patrol returned safely to base.”